4 October 2016

Spine at Soho Theatre was fast, intense and tender

I loved Spine so much when I saw it in November 2014 that I eagerly took the opportunity to see it when it returned almost two years later. It meant skipping one of my regular meetings to see it but that was an easy price to pay.

The urge to see it came partially from it being a provocative and political play and partially because it was a one-woman tour de force by Rosie Wyatt. I first saw her in Blink which was the spur for me to see Spine the first time around. I also saw her in the The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas so this was my fourth time seeing her on stage in two years. I'm a fan.

Spine was back in the upper space at Soho Theatre, which was good, and because there was another show on later in the evening, it started at 7pm which was less good. I had hoped to escape from work early but an important meeting with champagne kept me there beyond 5:30 and I had to make hasty excuses to catch the 17:43 from TED to WAT. Things worked well after that and I had just got myself a beer when we were called upstairs. It was a long walk and many of the seats on the front row were reserved for guests but I managed to find one for me pretty close to the centre. Job done.

Spine is narrated by Amy, a young woman (still a girl really at the start of the story) who tells us her recent story about how she ended up in a room full of books, which is all that there was on the stage. The other main character in the story was an elderly lady who Amy mimicked when telling her story. We also heard about Amy's family and a recent boyfriend.

The story was told naturally with Amy leaping to different parts of her life to tell us about episodes what she was telling us about at the time. That gave us a heap of small stories within the main one and while I remembered the main story I had forgotten many of the small ones, such as her criminal career and the toilet incident that caused her to be sacked from a job.

The deluge of quickly little stories made Spine an intense experience and Rosie Wyatt's skillful deliver brought out the humour, brutality and tenderness. One summary could be that this was a coming of age play with a happy ending but that summary leaves out all the rich detail that made Spine such an enjoyable play.

I was a little worried about seeing it again so soon after the first time but I should not have been. Spine was excellent (again).

I needed to unwind after that so hit the bar for a second pint. I was on my way out after that when I noticed Rosie in the bar so I went up to do some hero worshipping. She recognised me from my tweeting which made the introduction a little less daunting. I like to give direct feedback when I can, and I try not to intrude too much or to be too fawning. I am always grateful when creatives respond positively.

That would normally have been a good end to a great evening but there was another incident after that which lifted the evening. I was on the train home talking about theatres I love when a young woman interrupted to ask if I was talking about Blink, I was, and when I mentioned Wink! she said that she knew the playwright. A brief but deeply rewarding twitter exchanged followed later that evening. I love theatre and theatre people.

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